Published: Dec 12, 2022 Reading time: 10 minutes
© Foto: Agile Development Group

1. Project Introduction

Towards Inclusive Employment for People with Disabilities (PwDs) is a 3 years project (2021-2023), implemented by People in Need Cambodia in partnership with Agile Development Group under the funding of the Czech Development Agency. The project seeks to improve access to decent job opportunities for the PwDs as a result of

           I. gaining relevant skills matching the needs of the private sector,

           II. supporting PwDs to start their own enterprise,

          III. more inclusive practices from employers.

The ultimate goal of this project is to contribute to increased employability and employment opportunities of PwDs in Cambodia (SDG 4).

2. Activity Overview

Two written case studies were developed with an employee with disability and his/her employer to assess the experience of working and hiring people with disabilities (PwDs) in the organization. This activity was conducted following the technical support to selected employers on inclusive employment practices came to an end.

Expected Outcome:

● Highlight of the PwD-hired employer’s testimonial on the experience of hiring people with

disabilities and inclusive employment best practice including

            ○ Recruitment successes and challenges

​​​​​​            ○Retention and productivity

            ○ Benefits and strengths of the employee with disabilities

           ○ Management of people with disabilities including overall successes and challenges

           ○ Improvements required and recommendations

● Highlight on the inclusive employment practice and challenges demonstrated by the employed-PwD including

          ○ Work history

          ○ Overview of key strengths/contributions to the organization

          ○ Recruitment experience

          ○ Reasonable accommodation experiences

          ○ Experiences of management and organization support

          ○ Improvements required and recommendations

The findings were generated through a fruitful interview with both protagonists from SM Eco Development (SMED), which was selected for the case studies as the company is employing a number of people with disabilities (PwDs) as well as co-operating by a female entrepreneur with disability. List of protagonists is described below:

Mr. SIM Makara, Chief Executive Officer (No impairment)

Mr. HOUL Vannyvuth, Administrative Assistant and Graphic Designer, (Lower impairment (Right leg)

3. Case Studies Narrative

Ability Over Disability: Employer Emphasized the Unique Trait in Hiring People with Disabilities.

"...They thrive, put greater effort and focus as well as producing good results. Generally speaking, I have no worries about their ability as they are persistent and punctual". SIM Markara, ECEO of SM Eco Development (SMED) on his experience with employees with disabilities. 

Mr. SIM Makara is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SM Eco Development (SMED), focusing on ecotourism-real estate development including agriculture, animal farming and resort type of staycation.

Established in the midst of global COVID-19 pandemic, the vision of the company is to utilize unoccupied land into a profitable business. The company is currently employing 24 staff, 7 females and 14 males for both office and farmland location in 2022, of whom 3 employees are people with disabilities (PwDs) having the position of Administrative Assistant and Salesperson. When it comes to employing people with disabilities (PwDs), Makara expressed his deep empathy as his spouse is also having a lower impairment. He acknowledged their hardship therefore employing people with disabilities (PwDs) means offering them an opportunity to showcase their talents and contribute to their source of income. On top of that, this movement also complies with corporate responsibility to The National Disability Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation.

Makara shared his experience stating that the recruitment process often takes place within the network, which his spouse is actively participating in. He would, on the other hand, utilize social media during the process by apparently prioritizing applicants with disabilities.

“In fact, there is a small percentage of people with disabilities (PwDs) applying for the job so in that case, I promptly acquire them right away. As for me, I would determine their ability over education level.” added Makara. In terms of evaluation, capacity and management are the most attentive skills that he looks forward to seeing, which leads to a surprising discovery upon employing people with disabilities (PwDs).

“I discovered that their commitment is stronger than people without disabilities. They thrive, put greater effort and focus as well as producing good results. Generally speaking, I have no worries about their ability as they are persistent and punctual.” - Makara stated.

Managing employees with disabilities alternatively is not a problem because the delegation proceeds according to their capacities while the company strives to facilitate their needs and resolve each and every issue.

The company is in fact, just initiated different types of accessibility to accommodate employees with disabilities such as assembling a toilet ramp, renovating passageways and the kitchen. In addition, Makara occasionally invites professionals to carry out different skill training whilst sending employees to join other workshops as well. The collaboration between employees with and without disabilities give a rise to good relationships within the workplace. However, if there is any discrimination among the team, there would be an appointed encounter to educate them on appropriate practice of communication, the concept of ability over disability, strengthening their understanding of this sector and create more accessible and inclusive working environment. The company currently has enough capacity, however he plans to recruit more people with disabilities (PwDs) hereafter. As mentioned, he thoroughly acknowledges disability and would like to offer a helping hand to the people. By emphasizing people with disabilities (PwDs), Makara evaluates employees based on their personality and performance. They will be prioritized if they have the ability and required skill set. He would like to motivate people with disabilities (PwDs) to acquire a specific skill set because it is a way for them to improve. “You will be successful in any institutions/companies despite your disability because generally speaking, a good heart and ability are more valuable than your physical ability. Accept the reality and don’t be discouraged, you might not be able to decide on how you were born, but you can develop a skill and make the best of what you have now.” said Makara.

Strive Beyond Disability: Employee emphasizes happiness in being employed

HOUL Vannyvuth, Administrative Assistant and Graphic Designer at SM Eco Development (SMED):

"I received an opportunity, which is the biggest support. I was previously neglected due to my disability over ability however, this case did not exist here. I also have a great relationship with my colleagues as they often provide guidance and help if there is any challenge" 

40-year-old HOUL Vannyvuth with a lower impairment pursues a career as an Administrative Assistant and Graphic Designer at SM Eco Development (SMED). Throughout his career, he has been employed in 2 private companies and developed a few beneficial skill sets to create a source of income. His work life embarked at Voice of New Life Radio in which he was given a chance to work as a radio planner for 4 years before moving to Fellowship Word of Life Association as a library administrative assistant, publication coordinator and voice-over actor for another 8 years. Surprisingly, Vannyvuth developed a cell phone repairing skill and became a profound technician from 2016 prior to the arrival of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Graphic design was another developed skill set, which then became his financial support during the hardship. In his current employment, Vannyvuth explained that he showed interest after hearing from his wife that Mrs. Khoun Socheata, who is the Chief Executive Officer’s wife and Agile beneficiaries, was recruiting people with disabilities (PwDs) as the employee. “I was nervous, and I couldn’t speak properly.” said Vannyvuth in regard to the interviewing process. Going through the 2nd job interview in his entire career, he confessed that he has never once convinced a recruiter to accept the application. He would only apply if there were an open opportunity for PwDs and go to the interview if he is shortlisted. As a person with disability, he has the determination to apply for any job however from his point of view, he was skeptical that it would be alternatively difficult for the company which he applied to as they would have a hard time delegating the task due to his disability. When it comes to the support system during his applying process, Vannyvuth received reasonable accommodation during the interview. For example, there were some people who accompanied him as soon as they noticed his movement. However, he would politely reject the help as it would cause more barriers than moving on his own.

After being employed at SM Eco Development (SMED) for nearly 4 months, he expressed his enthusiasm and described the similarity between his previous and current position. “What the company is providing to the market, reminded me of my teenage dream. I wanted to own a house with farmland in the back and now I am working in a company that offers this type of property.” said Vannyvuth. He added that he genuinely enjoyed and regained the warmth in his current workplace after not being employed in any institution or company after a while. He was able to share personal opinions if there was any concern and executed the assigned task. On the other hand, there were some environmental/physical changes following his entry as well. As there was a railway across the street, he was asked if it would cause a barrier for his daily transportation in which the renovation happened afterward.

The company had additionally built a toilet ramp and refurbished the kitchen. Vannyvuth described the office facilities to be accessible as the desks and chairs were sturdy to provide physical support to employees with disabilities. He recalled an experience in which he received another pronounced accommodation from the General Manager during a site visit. Due to the weather instability, he was continuously asked if he wanted to come back, however he insisted on going and there were other methods used to accompany the transportation as well. Besides, there were no challenges or discrimination as for now.

Vannyvuth expressed his gratitude toward the company stating, “I received an opportunity, which is the biggest support. I was previously neglected due to my disability over ability however, this case did not exist here. I also have a great relationship with my colleagues as they often provide guidance and help if there is any challenge.”

To develop himself as a more profound employee, he wanted to expand knowledge in the area of E-Commerce. In relation to the development, Vannyvuth is able to manage the time better now. He admits that he used to neglect this matter in the previous job but is now committing to his promise regarding working hours and trying to overcome this bad habit. As a person with disability, Vannyvuth would like to advocate for more inclusive employment to PwDs and remind fellow employed-PwDs to always give their best and commit to their job even if exhaustion or discouragement arise.

     “There is no shortcut to easy work so you have to thrive because we don’t always get this type of            opportunity.” - Mr. HOUL Vannyvuth.

The case studies undertaken by Agile Development Group summarizes the activity 4.4 developed in OUTPUT 4: Awareness raising campaigns on inclusive employment practices for Employers and industry associations to better be aware of the needs of PwDs.

Activity 4.4: Business case development for employing PwDs and findings dissemination. 

Autor: Agile Development Group

Related articles